Review: Anastasia The New Broadway Musical Going Back To Before

Anastasia, The New Broadway Musical
Paramount Theatre – until January 30, 2022
Get tickets and more info here

*** Vaccinations (or negative Covid test result) and Masks are Required

Kyla Stone is Anya in the North American Tour of Anastasia (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

Kyla Stone is Anya in the North American Tour of Anastasia (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

Anastasia, the musical is the latest production at the Paramount Theatre. The show was written by the (late) impresario Terrence McNally (Ragtime, Kiss of the Spider Woman), with music and lyrics by the famed musical theatre collaborators of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Once on this Island). The story line is based on (semi) facts and rumors that surrounded one of the most infamous events in history and launched into being a worldwide mystery.

The young Grand Duchess Anastasia (one of five children of the Tsar Nicholas Romanov) is given a music box by her grandmother, The Dowager Empress, as the older woman departs for Paris. Following the Russian Revolution several years later, the Tsar is forced to abdicate his throne to the Bolsheviks, and the family is taken under house arrest. After the royal family is executed, rumors circulate that one of the Tsar’s children has survived. The legend gives way to inspiration in different men. Gleb is a rising officer of the newly formed Communist Party. His father was on the execution squad for the Tsar and his family, and Gleb feels pride in the sense of duty his father was given. Gleb swears to either bring down any imposter or to finish off the Romanov family once and for all. Two conmen named Dmitry and Vlad, decide to find an impersonator and swindle money from the Tsar’s legacy. After auditioning several actresses, they find a young woman who, suffering from amnesia, has no memory of her past. Quickly they realize she has certain traits and similarities that were shared with the Grand Duchess. The men start grooming “Anya” for her impersonation, but as they do, certain memories began to return to the young girl until not even she knows if she is really a Grand Duchess, or an imposter.

The cast does a great job. The Ensemble all work as a single team and help promote the leads. Gerri Weagraff plays the role of the Dowager Empress with grace. Her voice is sweet and affectionate when singing with her beloved granddaughter, Anastasia, in the show’s unofficial theme, “Once Upon a December”. In contrast, Brandon Delgado plays the officer Gleb, with a stiffness that is hard to understand. The role is definitely an improvement from the animated film (where a soldier replaces the evil wizard Rasputin), and doesn’t appear at all, nor necessary, in the original 1956 classic film. The character placement just seems awkward in the storytelling. While Mr. Delgado’s voice is rich and definitely easy listening, his talents are wasted in an ill-created (and terribly anticlimactic) role.

Sam Mclellan and Bryan Seastrom play the two conmen, Dmitry and Vlad – respectively. Vlad is a faux Count that has placed himself into the court of the Romanovs. Mr. Seastrom plays the role with a good-natured lightheartedness. His comedy entertains and he easily endears the character to the audience. Dmitry is the proud kid whose father has been imprisoned by the new regime. He’s only bowed his head once, and that is his secret. Mr. Mclellan plays this role perfectly in every way. He is not only boyishly handsome enough for the role, but his persona easily exudes and his voice is equally charming. The innocence mixes well with his cunning con to make his character appear sweet instead of menacing.

Kyla Stone plays ‘Anya’; the woman who is taught to believe that she is the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov. Ms. Stone is a delight to watch. She struggles with recognizing her true self with good emotion. Her voice is beautiful and she sings with an inner strength. When she sings with any counterpart, neither overpower, and Ms. Stone easily harmonizes with anyone with whom she is paired.

A giant round of applause goes to Alexander Dodge (Scenic Design) and Aaron Rhyne (Projection Design) for their brilliant work on these sets. The backgrounds aren’t painted cardboard that slide across the stage. No. These are three-dimensional projections that make it almost impossible to tell where the stage ends and the sets continue. From the explosion of the Russian Revolution, to the gardens of Paris, the sets of this show are fantastic and breathtaking.

The stage musical definitely follows the “G” rating of both previous films (although the 1956 film, due to its time, didn’t carry a rating). The brief explosions of war are done well, and should not frighten any younger audience members. The same goes with any major violence – it’s mostly done offstage. As for historical accuracy, well …the musical ends (like its predecessors), as a musical should; the audience leaves smiling and feeling satisfied.

The musical Anastasia is based on two previous film adaptations; the Academy Award winning film ‘Anastasia’ (1956, staring Yul Brynner, Ingrid Bergman and Helen Hayes) as well as the musical, full-length animated feature of the same name (1997, by Don Bluth, with songs by Flaherty and Ahrens). The stage musical opened on Broadway April 24, 2017 and ran for 808 performances, just shy of two years. It was nominated for two Tony Awards (Best Featured Performance by An Actress, Best Costume Design) but failed to win.

Anastasia, The New Broadway Musical
Paramount Theatre – until January 30, 2022
Get more info here

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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